Facebook delays controversial WhatsApp privacy changes as millions flock to rival services

WhatsApp Privacy Settings on iPhone
WhatsApp Privacy Settings on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Facebook is delaying planned changes to its WhatsApp privacy policy.
  • A move earlier this month was met with outcry after it emerged users would have to share data with Facebook to keep using the app.
  • The changes have been delayed until May, but many millions of users have already taken to apps like Signal and Telegram.

Facebook has delayed controversial changes to its WhatsApp privacy policy following a public outcry over the move.

Earlier in January Facebook changed its policy so that users of WhatsApp will have to share their data with Facebook in order to keep using the service. WhatsApp tried to quell some fears a few days later following major public backlash over the move, highlighting messages would remain private and encrypted.

In the face of rising opposition, however, Facebook has now delayed the move until May. From Android Central:

WhatsApp's planned privacy policy update have resulted in a powerful backlash towards both itself and Facebook over the past week. The new policy, for the unaware, will result in more data than some are comfortable with being shared among WhatsApp, Facebook, and other Facebook-owned companies.The company has tried to clarify its position and has now been forced to backtrack on this imminent change. Users will now have an additional three months — till May — to review and adopt the new terms of service if they so choose. The company will also now try and allay concerns and "clear up misinformation" around its stance on data privacy.

In a blog, WhatsApp said it would take the time to clear up misinformation about the move, and that no one would have their account suspended or deleted on February 8, the original deadline.

Users have flocked in their millions to rival services like Signal and Telegram in the wake of the changes, Signal went down over the weekend due to an influx of new users, and Telegram says it has added 25 million new users in the last week alone.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9